Identity Theft Alert: IRS Phone Scams

The IRS has recently seen a surge of aggressive and threatening phone scams, as scam artists threaten all sorts of serious consequences: police arrest, deportation, and license revocation, among others. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of scams that arise during any tax filing season.

In January 2016, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of these scams.

How are they doing it? Scammers are making unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a fake tax bill by convincing the victim to send cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or also by email with the intent to phish for more information.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use seemingly official IRS titles and/or fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

What can you do to protect yourself? Per the IRS website, here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for nonpayment.

For more information on the latest tax scams and identity theft, visit the News & Events page of the IRS website at: